While Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) celebrated his second victory of the season at Scheldeprijs, there was chaos behind him as a nasty crash marred the finishing sprint. Wouter Weylandt (Leopard Trek), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo), Chris Sutton (Sky) and Sjef De Wilde (Verandas Willems-Accent) all hit the ground in the finale, after Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) had crashed out earlier in the race.
The accident at the finish happened when Weylandt and Farrar appeared to touch shoulders with 200 metres to go. When the Belgian lost control, he brushed the unfortunate Farrar’s rear wheel, and both men tumbled to the ground.
Sutton had launched his sprint from distance and had been passed by Weylandt when he came down. The Australian was thus unable to avoid the incident as he rode into the fallen Belgian.
It was a frustrating conclusion for Farrar as he appeared well placed to at least challenge Cavendish when his race came to an abrupt halt inside the final 200 metres.
“All went perfectly, I was on Cavendish's wheel and was ready to start my sprint,” he said afterward. “Someone touched me from behind. My whole tubular went off and I tried to stay upright.”
After his podium finishes at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem, Farrar believed that he was on track to repeat his Scheldeprijs win of twelve months ago. “I had the legs to win,” he said.
The American did not believe that injuries would be enough to keep him out of Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, although he admitted that in the heat of the moment it was difficult to assess the extent of the damage.
“I think there's only some skin off but I'll wait with the diagnosis until the adrenaline is gone,” Farrar said. “Too bad.”
Sjef De Wilde rode into the prone Farrar and fell head first. Although he managed to finish the race in 168th place, the Belgian was taken directly to hospital with injuries to his vertebrae and head.
Katusha’s Denis Galimzyanov also came perilously close to hitting the deck after Farrar fell against him, but he recovered to finish in second place behind Cavendish. “It was quite a strange sprint as there was a bit of confusion, but Denis did well to avoid the crash,” Katusha directeur sportif Serge Parsani told Cyclingnews.
Boasson Hagen and Boonen among the early fallers
Edvald Boasson Hagen was eliminated from contention when he fell heavily on the finishing circuit in Schoten with 30km to go. The Norwegian was taken to hospital and diagnosed with three broken ribs after the race, and will have to forgo Paris-Roubaix.
“It looks as if Edvald got pushed out of the way,” his teammate Kurt Asle Arvesen told TV2sporten. “Fortunately he landed softly, as he fell the grass when he came down. It was a dramatic day for us, with probably three of us going to ground.”
Meanwhile, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) fell twice during the race and opted not to contest the finishing sprint. Cofidis’ Arnaud Labbe also came down and abandoned the race.
George Hincapie (BMC) also fell twice during the race, and scraped his right hip and his left knee. “I’m really sore right now,” the American said afterwards, but he is still due to undertake a reconnaissance of part of the Paris-Roubaix course on Thursday morning.